There has been a great deal of speculation about the reasons for the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight just over three weeks ago, but there’s no evidence of terrorism, said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.
“So far, there’s been none,” the California Democrat told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday’s “State of the Union” program. “There’s speculation, but there’s nothing.”
Feinstein noted the situation is “very hard” because searchers and officials “don’t have what they need to carefully calculate a reasonable area where they plane may be. This is a very difficult mission.”
There are many nations participating in the search, Feinstein said, “but there is no real method of calculation that is functioning very well.”
Crowley noted that some of the satellite photos coming from the area where the plane is suspected to have landed are not as clear as other satellite photos can be. She showed the difference between photos of the ocean and satellite photos taken of Osama Bin Laden’s compound a few years ago, and asked if more sophisticated satellites could target the suspected crash site.
“I’m not going to go in to what we do have or what we don’t have,” Feinstein said. “You have to understand that American intelligence doesn’t gear itself to be ready for plane crashes.”
Meanwhile, Feinstein said that she is sure that if asked, U.S. intelligence services would provide whatever data they have. She stressed that Malaysia is in charge of the investigation, and the United States can offer its advice, “but you can’t demand.”
Also on Sunday’s show, Feinstein discussed her ongoing issues with the CIA over allegations it searched a congressional computer network. She voiced her objections in a dramatic speech on the Senate floor in early March, and told Crowley Sunday that her words on that day should stand on the incident.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed I have done no press on this, after I did a 40-minute speech,” Feinstein said. “I believe it is accurate and those words should stand.”
But while Feinstein has asked for an apology from the CIA and a statement that congressional computer networks would not be searched, that has not happened.
“The CIA went into walled off Senate computers being used in a bona fide investigation that’s being done on the detention and interrogation of detainees” said Feinstein. “It isn’t the first time, [they did this] it’s the third time.”
But despite their differences, Feinstein said she and the CIA “are on speaking terms” and had a good hearing about Syria this past Thursday.
“We are in the process of beginning a fuller investigation on all the intelligence programs of this country,” said Feinstein. The irony is that the National Security Agency’s program of data collection is the most-overseen program we have, and there thousands of other programs that need a look at.”
President Barack Obama has said he wants a bill to transfer storage of phone data away from the NSA and leave it with phone companies, who would need to turn over information only when a warrant is served, a plan with which Finstein agrees.
“The issue is whether the telecoms are willing to hold this data,” said Feinstein. “When we talked with them, they were not.”
She said it’s likely that if the storage bill is passed, phone companies would “have to be compelled legislatively in a bill and be provided with liability immunity.”